Melilotus. Yellow Melilot, Yellow Sweet Clover. Melilotus officinalis.
Melilotus. N. F. IV. Yellow Melilot. Yellow Sweet Clover. Herba Meliloti, Yellow Sweet Clover, G.—'The dried leaves and flowering tops of Melilotus officinalis (Linné) Lamarck (Fam. Leguminosae)." N. F. An annual or biennial plant of the Fam. Leguminosae, indigenous in Europe, and growing also in this country. The plant, when in flower, has a peculiar sweet odor, which, by drying, becomes stronger and more agreeable, somewhat like that of the tonka bean. The N. F. describes it as follows: "Stems mostly less than 3 dm. in length, slender, straight, mostly simple, often leafy below, terminating in long slender racemes, the younger portions very finely pubescent; leaves glabrous or nearly so; petiolate, trifoliate, stipulate, the stipules subulate, entire, the leaflets from 1 to 3 cm. in length, varying from narrowly oblong to oval or occasionally broader above the middle, rounded, truncate, or slightly notched at the summit, sharply serrate; racemes 1 dm. or less in length, many flowered, the flowers yellow, from 5 to 6 mm. in length; calyx bell-shaped, the fine, nearly equal lobes shorter than the tube, corolla papilionaceous, the keel shorter than the other petals, which are about equal; legumes reflexed, from 2.5. to 3.5 mm. in length, obovate, wrinkled, one-seeded. Odor aromatic, tonka-like; taste sweetish, slightly pungent and bitter. Melilot yields not more than 10 per cent of ash." N. F. This similarity is accounted for by the fact that coumarin, C9H6O2, the chief constituent of tonka beans, is present in melilot, combined with melilotic acid, C9H10O3, and coumaric acid, C9H8O3, of which latter acid coumarin is the anhydride. M. alba Desv. is a more robust species, distinguished by its white flowers. Melilot is practically inert.